Morningstar Inc. announced Thursday plans to launch rankings and research on exchange-traded fund (ETF) managed portfolios later this year. The provider of independent investment research made the announcement at its second annual ETF Invest Conference in Chicago, where it is headquartered.

Of more than 330 ETF managed portfolios with about $22 billion in assets now tracked by Morningstar, about 30% were launched within the past three years and the number continues to increase, the firm said in its news release. ETF managed portfolios are primarily separate account strategies that have more than 50% of a portfolio’s assets in ETFs.

Morningstar logo“By expanding the research available for ETF managed portfolios, we aim to increase the awareness and transparency of this rapidly growing area of the industry,” said Andrew Gogerty, ETF managed portfolios strategist for Morningstar, in a statement. “These strategies typically offer greater tactical flexibility than a traditional individual security separate account strategy, but no other firm is providing commentary, research, and education for advisors in this area.”

Separately, Morningstar is creating a proprietary classification system for ETF managed portfolios, which advisors can use to screen offerings based on a portfolio’s strategy. Morningstar will rank ETF managed portfolios by performance against their peers within their classification grouping.

Morningstar plans to make the ETF managed portfolios rankings and research available through its advisor and institutional products, including Morningstar Advisor Workstation, Morningstar Office and Morningstar Direct. Some content from the ETF managed portfolios database also will be available on Morningstar.com in early 2012.